Berlin Black Book
Culty department stores and an edgy arts scene, experimental cuisine and cosy, classic schnitzel spots...we’re finally ready to tackle this huge and slightly intimidating city.
I’m always a little embarrassed when someone asks me about the last time I’ve been to a certain place and I have to say it’s been years, or never. It’s not that I don’t have the interest; I just find it’s easier to be a return traveler to places I’m deeply connected to, and when I want to experience a new place, I want to be armed with intel from people I trust. (Hopefully we are that for you now!)
Of course, I’ve always wanted to visit Berlin, but somehow never put it on the calendar because I hadn’t managed to pull together all the necessary research. But in the last year, I’ve found myself in touch with more than a few locals and friends who know the city well, and I made a point of asking them for their lists. Not that anyone needs convincing to visit this incredible cultural capital that always feels like the center of cool. But if, like, me, you’ve never been (or it’s been a while), I think this description from Gisela Williams and Antje Wewer—Berlin-based magazine veterans who recently launched the w-report, a travel and culture-focused Substack, and who contributed to our list below—sells it is so well: “We love Berlin because it’s still a city flush with creative possibilities, sown with unexpected and experimental projects and places. It’s populated by countless world class contemporary artists and designers, from Hella Jongerius to Olafur Eliasson and Danh Vo. But…often these projects are hidden and difficult to find. Berlin is not easy to navigate, especially for first timers. Partly because it’s huge, nine times the size of Paris; every neighborhood is its own universe. Also because if you’ve ever stood in line in Berghain, the city’s most legendary nightclub, you know that whatever passes for cool in other cities—Instagramming the hell out of something, wearing head-to-toe designer, flashing cash—does not cut it in Berlin.”
So now I’m ready to go, and I hope we can compare notes soon! —Y.E.
Claudio Kühn is a Yolo subscriber and Berliner who shared a long list of recs with us; he runs his own law firm in the city, where he relocated 12 years ago after living in Munich, Lausanne, Istanbul and Shanghai.
Gisela Williams and Antje Wewer are Berlin-based travel and culture writers behind the new Substack, w-report. We’ve followed Gisela’s scoops for years as a contributing editor to T Magazine and Travel & Leisure; Antje Wewer (“the other W”) is an editor at Salon.
Rachel Coleman is a social media consultant based in Berlin. Before moving there five years ago, she lived in NYC and worked on the social media team at Condé Nast Traveler with us!